Back-to-back Adirondack

I was fortunate enough to enjoy two extended weekends in the Adirondacks this month. Both trips were full of new and exciting activities, and I am grateful for the endless memories that have been created. On my first trip, buds were just beginning to show on the trees because of the delayed spring.

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Oseetah and the bare birch trees
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Birding along some Saranac back roads.

One morning I birded the Bloomingdale Bog which was full of warblers that just arrived on their breeding grounds. I was also lucky to see a Black-backed Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher and many Lincoln’s Sparrows.

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A beautiful male Magnolia Warbler in the Bloomingdale Bog
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A curious Gray Jay

By the time we arrived again, the entire landscape was changed. Two weeks of sun and rain pushed out neon green leaves on all of the deciduous trees in the woods. My brothers and I journeyed into the backwoods for a refreshing swim in the secret gem known as Pine Pond. We also enjoyed a little boating and fishing on Oseetah Lake.

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On our way to Pine Pond
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The waterskiing slalom course on Oseetah Lake

Most of the days were filled with intermittent rain showers, but we were lucky to have one dry day, which we spent on a 14 mile hike. Despite the long distance, we were rewarded with refreshing views of Wanika Falls along the Northville-Placid Trail.

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The upper portion of Wanika Falls

The wildflowers were in full bloom all along the trail, with three species of Trillium and Dutchman’s Breeches dominating the forest floor.

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Painted Trillium

Until next time…IMG_7442

Spring Break in the North Country

For the first half of spring break I was able to venture into the North Country of New York in the Adirondack State Park. Although I am totally ready for spring to arrive, I was really excited to explore the frozen lakes and snowy forests for a couple days. Upon our arrival at our camp in the evening, I walked out on the nearby lake to soak in the last of the day’s sunlight.

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The next day my parents and I decided to hit the slopes at Whiteface Mountain for a day of skiing. A light snowfall during the night was a nice remedy to the rather icy trails. It ended up being a fairly warm day, which made the skiing enjoyable and well worth it. At the end of the day I decided to try out the ski cross track which they had (similar to the olympic races but on a smaller scale) and it was quite fun.

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Whiteface Mountain, home of the downhill Olympic events in 1980

On the following day, I decided hike out over Oseetah Lake and explore the area. I first walked out to the center of the lake to check out the fishing shanty. It was a cozy little place with a small wood stove inside.

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The ice fishing shanty on Oseetah Lake

As I headed out to the far edge of the lake, I was surprised to find a Black Lab that appeared out of nowhere. He was an energetic guy, that journeyed with me for the next hour and was great company in this barren land. I named him Miller since I found him on the middle of Miller Pond (aka Oseetah Lake).

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Miller

Later in my journey, after Miller disappeared, I passed by a road that went out onto the lake. A few trucks used this to access their “boat access only” homes. It felt like ice road truckers.

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The ice road

On the final day, I headed out to bird the Bloomingdale Bog. I was targeting the Boreal species that reside here. The variety of birds lacked, but lots of Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches let me get extremely close, sometimes even less than a foot away. Eventually I stumbled upon a group of Gray Jays, which are unique to this area in New York. Later along Bigelow road I finally found my nemesis Boreal Chickadee, which was an exciting discovery.

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Red-breasted Nuthatch and Black-capped Chickadee
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Bloomingdale Bog Trail
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Attempting to feed the Gray Jays

Winters in the Adirondacks are very unique (and cold). There is so much silence and stillness, which can be a great way to get away from the rush of life that often blurs the important things in life.

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Alone under the stars

Adirondack Avian Specialties

This past week I was able to get up to the Adirondacks again for two short days. I had to do some work during the day, but I was able to get out in the mornings and evenings to do some birding and exploring. I was excited to see what kind of breeding birds I could find in the boreal bogs and dense forests nearby.

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Boreal forest with cotton grass

My first stop was the Bloomingdale Bog trail. This is a small slice of Canadian boreal forests tucked into upstate New York, which offers some interesting species that are hard to find elsewhere in the Eastern U.S, such as Black-backed Woodpeckers and Boreal Chickadees.

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The first bird out of the car was a singing Lincoln’s Sparrow, one of my favorite sparrows. Shortly down the trail I heard some Eastern Bluebirds and a Purple Finch singing away. Then came some of the breeding warblers. Among the abundant singing Nashville Warblers, there were also Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Northern Parula and Black-throated Green warblers to name a few.

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After making my way out into a more  open boggy area I could make out the sharp song of several Alder and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. Before turning around, I flushed a Merlin off the edge of the trail as it flew away with a fresh kill. The sight of three Gray Jays scavenging along the trail is always enjoyable too. After 15 visits to this location, the Boreal Chickadee has eluded me again.

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Some killer American Bittern habitat

In the evening I stopped by the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in hopes of witnessing an American Bittern. From the top of the mountain, I quickly heard the loud pumping of a bittern! I ran down to the lookout where the bittern was poking its head out of the marsh, eventually vocalizing several more times.

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American Bittern

The last morning I decided to relax a bit and take the fishing boat out over Oseetah. I planned on doing some fishing, but the birds were active in the golden morning light, so I cruised around the islands listening for new species. Breeding plumage Common Loons floated through the golden fog, while I noted singing Ovenbird, Scarlet Tanager and Swamp Sparrow along the shore. Eventually I picked out a hight-pitched, metallic sounding “che-bik” call of a Least Flycatcher which was exciting since it was only my second ever. Also, a Belted Kingfisher did a nifty routine of hovering before shooting into the lake to catch some fish.

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Common Loon

My final highlight of the trip was finding a Black-capped Chickadee nest in a cavity about a foot off the ground right next to my tent. I watched the bird fly in to its screaming chicks just three feet away from me.

Once again, the Adirondacks did not disappoint.